As­sets: Judge with­draws from Saraki’s case

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The judge pre­sid­ing over the case by Se­nate Pres­i­dent Bukola Saraki chal­leng­ing the cor­rup­tion charges against him by the Code of Con­duct Bureau (CCB) has with­drawn from the hear­ing.

Jus­tice Ahmed Mo­hammed of an Abuja Fed­eral High Court yesterday hands off the case cit­ing cri­sis of con­fi­dence gen­er­ated by “neg­a­tive so­cial media re­ports” sur­round­ing his ear­lier rul­ing.

He or­dered that the case be re­mit­ted to the Chief Judge of the Fed­eral High Court for re-as­sign­ment to another judge “in the in­ter­est of jus­tice.”

Saraki had on Septem­ber 17 ap­proached the court through an ex parte ap­pli­ca­tion seek­ing to halt his ar­raign­ment be­fore the Code of Con­duct Tri­bunal (CCT) in Abuja on a 13-count charge of false dec­la­ra­tion of as­sets.

Jus­tice Mo­hammed in his rul­ing or­dered coun­sels to Saraki, Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Mah­mud Ma­gaji (SAN) to serve no­tice of hear­ing on the Min­istry of Jus­tice, CCB, CCT, and Mus­lim Has­san- a prin­ci­pal pros­e­cu­tor in the Min­istry of Jus­tice, to ap­pear on Septem­ber 21 to show cause why the ap­pli­ca­tion should not be granted.

How­ever, Saraki on Mon­day Septem­ber 21 again ap­proached the Ap­peal Court in Abuja af­ter a bench war­rant was on Fri­day is­sued against him by pre­sid­ing judge of the CCT, Jus­tice Dan­ladi Umar. But the ap­pli­ca­tion was not granted. He was sub­se­quently ar­raigned on Tues­day Septem­ber 22.

Jus­tice Mo­hammed was an­gered by sub­se­quent media re­ports which claimed that he had granted the ap­pli­ca­tion to stop the trial and have un­suc­cess­fully tried to stop the se­nate pres­i­dent’s trial at the CCT af­ter he was com­pro­mised.

“While it is not my in­ten­tion to join is­sues with the au­thors of the said pub­li­ca­tion, but I strongly feel that the records should be set straight. In the first in­stance, I have never made any re­strain­ing or­der against any of the de­fen­dants and in par­tic­u­lar, the Code of Con­duct Tri­bunal vide a Mo­tion Ex parte or any Mo­tion at all. Those who are con­ver­sant with the work­ings of this Court knows it is not in the habit of grant­ing re­strain­ing or­ders to stop public in­sti­tu­tions from car­ry­ing out their statu­tory du­ties,” he said.

Ex­plain­ing the de­ci­sion to with­draw from the case, the judge noted that if Saraki’s claim suc­ceeds in the end, the al­le­ga­tion in the pub­li­ca­tion would seem to have been proved, while if it fails in the court, it would seem that he was blackmailed by the pub­li­ca­tion not to do jus­tice in the mat­ter.

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